Seek Life and Fear Not Death
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Seek Life and Fear Not Death
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
He is Risen! Our Lord Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! Yes, it happened nearly 2000 years ago but the fact of the matter is that he is still alive today sitting on the right hand of the Father. During the Christmas season I had a conversation with a coworker about how we celebrate the season of Christ’s birth. He mentioned how people get so hyped up about Christmas however, the most important holiday that defines our faith as Christians is Easter Sunday. This one day represents everything that Christianity is all about. It is no wonder then why Satan would want to attack it this year by keeping us in our homes instead of in fellowship with our families and church families. However, it does not matter what our circumstances are right now. He is still risen. Nothing will ever change that, not even a government executive order can change this truth. So many are living in fear right now of illness and death. However, Christ is risen and because he has risen, we can truly live as well. We must seek life and not fear death as death will not overcome us because Christ has already overcome death.
Our passage from Jeremiah today brings to us a promise from the Lord of what is to come. Israel has been exiled to Babylon and once again held captive just as they were in Egypt. However, Jeremiah exclaims that they will once again be the people of God in the land that was given to them. They will once again rebuild and plant their vineyards and then enjoy their fruit. Planting a vineyard was a long process as for the first 3 years you would not reap a harvest as the vineyard took root. In the fourth year this was the first fruits and it belonged to the Lord. However, after 5 years the people would be able to reap a harvest for themselves. God is promising that they will be able see and reap the harvest after their long time of waiting. God is the God of the living. We too will again plant our fields and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Our economy will recover and Jobs will be available again. God will use this time and this situation for His glory.
I believe that Satan has had us all so distracted lately. Distracted by the news and the decisions of the government. Distracted by our possible needs of long-term supplies. He has us in constant worry and fear. Worried about food, money, and the well being of our friends and family. I don’t know if there has been a time in the history of our country in which we have not been so self-conscious over our actions and of where we go. I think that many of those who are living in this fear and chaos are like sheep without a shepherd. However, we have a shepherd and his name is Jesus. Paul told the Colossians to stop setting their minds on earthly things and focus on the things that are above. When we accepted Christ into our hearts, we were also reborn and raised with Christ as he is risen. Yet sometimes we can be distracted from heavenly things and be focused so much on earthly things. The days that have followed since this virus outbreak have been such times of loss of focus. However, Paul says that we should put away the things of our earthly nature. We should put away our nature of sin such as sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Unfortunately, I think that this pandemic is really separating the sheep from the goats. There are two options that we have. We can buy into the path that the world is taking or we can take the path of Christ. Paul says that Christ is our life and that when he appears, we will appear with him in glory.
Times like these can bring out the best in people and unfortunately the worst as well. I have seen many people, companies, politicians, and even churches use the chaos in this situation to take advantage of people living in fear. It seems that everyone has their own agenda. There have been people hoarding supplies and then also trying to resell them at marked up prices. If you really think about it, they are brilliant in their thinking but they lack the character to do what is truly right or righteous. Politicians passing blame onto others and spreading lies in order to forward their own political influence and gain more power. Even the media presenting biased or false information to serve their own desires and influence others towards their own bias. There are other Christians and pastors who are preaching that this virus is the wrath of God onto this world to punish us for our sins. By saying this they are saying that God engineered this virus to punish and judge. However, I believe that this goes against the nature of God and of the nature of Christ. When God creates something, he says it is good. However, this virus is not good. It is our own fault and by our own doing that this virus and this pandemic exists. We have created a fallen world in which there is disease, pain, and suffering. This is not God’s fault but it is our fault. I do believe though that though he did not create this virus or send us this virus he will use it to his glory. These things that are going on are all things of the world that Paul says that we should not be focused on. Instead, we should be focused on our own salvation and the salvation of others. We should be focused on serving one another as Christ served us.
He is risen and we can be assured that he has risen because of the empty tomb for starters and then because of those who witnessed the event. John 20 says that very early in the morning on the first day of the week, so after the sabbath day, Mary Magdalene had gone out to the tomb. However, when she goes their she saw that the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty. So, the first witness we see is a woman first witnessing the empty tomb. The fact that all four gospels keep to this story of women as the first witness’s attributes to the authenticity of the historical account as women were not thought to be trust worthy witnesses on an account of things. Who would believe what they saw and said? Yet they never change their story. Mary then goes back to bring more witnesses of the empty tomb. They all begin to believe but are still unsure of what has happened. Jesus then appears first to Mary and gives her a message to give to his chosen disciples. The historical empty tomb is also recorded by the Jewish leaders as well as they tried to cover up this resurrection by paying the guards off to change their story and account of what had happened saying that the disciples came in the night to steal the body. However, you see the common theme here? The tomb was empty. Jesus even afterwards appeared to over 1000 people at once showing that he has Risen. There are no known accounts that discredit these witnesses.
Bottom line today is that Jesus has risen. Nothing can keep that from us. For now, we need to follow guidelines and think of others. We need to serve one another and speak the truth. Jesus has risen and it is time for us to celebrate. It is time for us to get excited and spread the word. We all have a voice if we would use it. How are you using yours today? Are you using it to spread fear and worry about earthly things or are you using it to spread the truth and seek life, not death? It is your choice this morning. He is risen and our God reigns.